German govt. threatens Premiere

Office expected to announce verdict in October

BERLIN — The German Cartel Office threatened on Tuesday to veto a proposed change in the shareholder structure of German pay-TV web Premiere if concessions are not offered.

After the European Commission banned their digital pay-TV alliance last May, Premiere shareholders Leo Kirch and Bertelsmann subsidiary CLT-Ufa applied to German antitrust authorities for permission to increase their stakes in Premiere to 50% each.

As part of their rejected merger plan, Kirch and CLT-Ufa had agreed to buy out the 37.5% stake of partner Canal Plus and split power at Premiere.

But in an official warning, German cartel officials demanded an unspecified set of concessions from CLT-Ufa and Kirch before approving the new plan.

The office is expected to announce its verdict in mid-October.

Like the European Commission, German officials are concerned that Kirch and CLT-Ufa will monopolize pay-TV in Germany.

“The transformation of Premiere into a joint venture between CLT-Ufa and the Kirch Group would likely lead to a strengthening of this market dominance.”

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